Ruston residents can voice opinions on internet options at tonight’s Board of Alderman meeting

By T. Scott Boatright

Ruston residents interested in a new home internet option are urged to attend tonight’s Board of Aldermen meeting to voice their feelings during a public hearing on the matter.

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. today at Ruston City Hall with the public hearing before the first order of business on the agenda.

In October of last year the city of Ruston began studying on potentially becoming an internet provider for city residents with CCG — the firm that will be considered tonight — conducting random telephone surveys of city residents to determine potential interest to existing providers available to residents here.

Then in April, Ruston’s aldermen hired the Keller and Heckman law firm based in Washington DC to help prepare the city to request the Louisiana Bond Commission for permission to bond out the project which is projected to cost $18 million.

After tonight’s public hearing and receiving feedback from city residents, Ruston’s aldermen will determine if they hire a national consulting firm to continue moving forward with the potential project.

Ruston’s aldermen will also discuss during tonight’s meeting a request to created a Power and Water District for the city that if moved forward could eventually end up with the city levying a 1.75% sales tax within such a district.

That economic development district would consist of the city’s old diesel power plant sire and adjoining acreage bought by Monroe developer Michael Echols in 2019.

The city sold the site located on East Mississippi Avenue to Echols in August of 2019 for $337,000.

Echols wants to turn the plant into a mixed-use residential and commercial site. He told aldermen in 2019 that he envisions a three-phase project that will ultimately include as many as 110 housing units, as well as retail and commercial space.

The name of the potential new district comes from the fact the site was once the city’s power plant and waterworks location.

Should the district be created, initially the proceeds would go toward offsetting the cost of project development and not to the city. Further details about any use of proceeds have not yet been finalized.

If aldermen decide tonight to create the district, they would vote on an ordinance actually creating such a district in June.

Also on tonight’s Board of Aldermen agenda is consideration and recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission to amend Ruston’s future land use plan in order to rezone property at 140 West Woodhaven to allow for expansion desired by Faith Christian Center.

Faith wants to change the property’s designation from low-density residential to central parkway, making it easier for the church to go through the legal process to approve the planned expansion.

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